Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

"WIIXIASI  VOX   HUMBOLBT.                   265
erudition, if he had only thought more of the ideas of
others, or if he still read more. But he lives only in
his own ideas ; and his occupations, which I have now
had frequent opportunities of observing., are principally
trifling, such as the regulating his physiognomic
charts, his judgments expressed in single, generally
lame hexameters, correspondence, the execution of an
infinite number of trifling commissions for all kinds of
people, occasional poems, &c." It seems, indeed, sur-
prising how much he thought of the exterior form.
Humboldt describes and details the pedantic arrange-
ments of Lavater's room, the number of cases with
letters, superscriptions, &c. On several of them names
were pasted. ic I found many of my friends there,
principally females. In these cases he puts such of
Ms works which may interest the person. He gave
me the portfolio bearing the name of one of his lady
úriends5 with whom I am also intimately acquainted,
to read. What did it contain ? Nothing but
partly pietistic, partly sentimental poems, all utterly
devoid of ideas, neatly copied on fine paper, with an
engraved border." Humboldt could not perceive why
he spent so much time on mere form. His most
interesting conversations with him were upon physi-
ognomy, on German authors, and on the standard by
"which intellectual productions are measured.
But if Humboldt was disappointed with the pro-
phet of Zurich, he was all the more delighted with
the splendid views on the Zurich lake. He proceeded
from there to Zug and Luzern, and then made pedes-
trian excursions into the Oberland of Bern. The
weather was beautifully clear, and not a cloud ob-
scured the highest mountains. He went through the
well-known valleys and passes to Spital, in the valley
of the upper-bar, with the intention of ascending the
Gothard, but a snowstorm forced him to return. He
writes to Forster: " I spent very happy days- in these
wild districts. ISTever was my soul so filled with such
great images of irresistible, all-annihilating force, such
obstinate, -unconquerable strength; the feeling of a